Mavericks vs. Kings preview: Sacramento takes court through relocation reports

Jed Jacobsohn

In the first home game since the Kings-to-Seattle negotiations, the Kings take on a weary Dallas team that's lost 13 of its last 15 games.

Normally, this game would be just about be completely swept under the rug by NBA fans looking for the most interesting games of the night. Dallas, though playing better, is no longer an elite team and on the tail end of a back-to-back. Sacramento is inconsistent despite some really intriguing young players, highlighted by the frustrating off-court issues with DeMarcus Cousins. And, you have TNT hosting Heat vs. Trail Blazers and Knicks vs. Pacers: games that are likely to be more entertaining.

But then came the stunning news of the Kings' ownership entering into talks to sell the team to a group of prospective buyers with the intent to relocate to Seattle. Initial reports indicated the deal was only missing everyone's John Hancocks, but it appears negotiations have stalled, at least for the moment being.

Suddenly this home game for Sacramento gains some mystique. Will Kings fans show up to support the team in the face of the ownership that has disregarded them? How will they act and what will they chant? Will the players show monumental effort for the home fans to show their appreciation?

As for the on-court matchups, both teams have had to readjust to injuries and key players returning from them after lengthy rests. Dirk Nowitzki is back in the starting lineup for Dallas, but the team has lost eight of its last nine games since his return regardless. For the Kings, this will be Tyreke Evans' second game back from an injury, after struggling in limited minutes on Monday. Marcus Thornton, who is hobbled by a sprained ankle, is questionable to return tonight.

Sacramento has gotten fantastic play from DeMarcus Cousins as of late, averaging 21.6 points and 13.8 rebounds with a few assists and steals in the past five games. Chris Kaman, hardly known for his defense, will certainly have his hands full with Cousins. Conversely, the Kings are dreadful at defending the hoop, giving up the second-worst FG% at the rim (via HoopData.com).

But where Dallas really struggles is defending the perimeter, giving up the fifth-worst three-point shooting. The Kings have the 11th-best three shooting, but missing Marcus Thornton will hurt in this regard. It sure won't help that the Mavericks could have tired legs following their narrow defeat to the Clippers by six points late last night.

With a possibly super-energized arena roaring to have their voices to keep the team in Sacramento, this game could be excellent.

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